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If you’re still on the fence about the next Startup Weekend Sacramento event, we’d like to introduce you to a dedicated SWSac participant turned organizer, Maria Navas-Moreno.

While Maria did not pitch her own idea at the SWSac Women’s Edition, she joined with the objective to push herself out of her comfort zone. Proving, you don’t have to have an idea to pitch to participate. Anyone is welcome who wants to experience working with a dedicated team of idea makers.

We hope Maria’s experience and wisdom will better prepare and inspire you to join us on November 13 – 15 for Startup Weekend Sacramento: Elk Grove Edition.

Which past Startup Weekend did you participate in?
Startup Weekend Sacramento, Women’s Edition
November 2014

What was the name of your Startup Weekend team?:
BARK

What motivated you to work on someone else’s idea for a whole 54 hours?

I wanted the Startup Weekend to be a learning experience . I was willing to work on something that was completely out of my comfort zone. I think that for some people being passionate about a particular idea works. In some other cases, people have a passion for starting something new and unknown, and that’s what motivates me.

What’s the status of the idea that your team worked on?

BARK didn’t progress much passed the event. We were the 3rd place winners of the weekend, which did generate a lot of buzz. We had a chance to pitch our startup at Hacker Lab and the National Association of Women in Business, Sacramento. 

What were the most important lessons you learned about starting a business during you experience at Startup Weekend?

There were a few. One, is the importance of leadership. We had a very enthusiastic team, but the role of leadership can be a difficult task.

Second, it’s important to have the right co-founder. Startup Weekend is a real experience of what it’s like to work closely with and make decisions with team members and founders.

And third, filter advice and incorporate it into the ability to pivot and regroup. At the Women’s Edition, we had many different mentors and got a variety of opinions and advice. While speaking with mentors, take notes and discuss as a group, which advice to give priority and relevance to. 

What advice would you give to new Startup Weekend participants?

To the pitchers: Have a clear idea of what you want to get out of Startup Weekend. Is it to meet co-founders? To test your idea? Once you have the answer, it’s important to communicate that to your team and set expectations, for the weekend and after. This will help you find team members looking for what you’re looking for. 

For team members: Spend a few minutes getting the know the pitcher and what her or his plans are for the idea. Maybe even have a couple questions prepared ahead of time to ask while picking teams. Something that will give you a better idea about expectations from everyone involved. Taking the time can make a difference to finding a team that aligns with your expectations. 

And lastly, who is your startup inspiration?

My friend Ricardo, we were classmates while studying for our masters in biomedical engineering. He took what he learned and created a very successful biotechnology company in Colombia, a place where many would not bet a penny towards biotech.

Mia Lopez